LeBron James: They said u lost a step, wasn't explosive…

More on Blatt-LeBron Dynamic

How many of the chemistry issues were put on him, good results or not. And, yes, that speculation has centered on Blatt being fired because LeBron James issued a directive from on high that Tyronn Lue be elevated from assistant coach to the No. 1 chair. "No," Blatt told NBA.com, dismissing the notion of James as the impetus for change. "I don't know exactly why. But that's not what I think."
But Blatt and James never connected, a death knell for any coach who fails to get in lock step with his best player. Rumblings quickly surfaced that James had been behind the decision to fire him, and the four-time MVP -- who never formally asked management to fire Blatt, according to multiple sources -- was furious. "I've never, in my time since I picked up a basketball, ever undermined a coach," James said.
Magic Johnson: I'm upset that people are labeling the best all around player in the game, LeBron James a "coach killer." LeBron led his teams to 6 finals 2 titles & won 4 MVPs w/ those credentials there's NO WAY he can accomplish that & be a "coach killer". LeBron is probably the smartest player in the NBA with the highest basketball IQ, because of that he has opinions about winning basketball, which is something he knows a lot about! All the greats who are also the leaders of their teams have expressed their opinions in private & public and LeBron is no different. If you ran a poll of NBA coaches, I bet all of them would take LeBron on their team in a heartbeat! My advice to LeBron, is to be LeBron!
LeBron James, despite his denials and public statements, has received plenty of blame for Blatt’s dismissal. But he apparently wasn’t the only Cavalier down on Blatt. Far from it. Brian Windhorst of ESPN: "This is my 14th year covering the NBA. Before I covered the NBA, I covered colleges for a while, where I covered several coaches who went on to be relatively big-time coaches. And on every team and every coach I’ve ever covered, I’ve never seen a coach dynamic with a team like I saw with David Blatt. And I don’t know the way he handled the Russian national team. I don’t know the way he handled his teams in Greece. I don’t know how he handled his teams in Israel, in Russia, in Italy, everywhere else he went. All I know is what I saw, and I saw a guy who completely was unable to get even a modicum of respect from a majority of his players.
Brian Windhorst of ESPN: "And I also saw star players and veteran players – not just LeBron, OK. We know LeBron had issues with him. But basically any player that had any sort of veteran status in the league, more than Joe Harris and Matthew Dellavedova – all the veterans didn’t like him, either. He wasn’t able to win over about anybody."
Again, to be fair, it wasn't a one-way street. Silas taught James to be a pro and protected him. Brown taught James the value of defense. Krzyzewski taught James leadership. Spoelstra taught James efficiency and helped him become a champion. Blatt, if nothing else, taught James patience, at least some of it. Each coach has benefitted from the work of the last, and James has benefited greatly, in aggregate, as well.
Since the legendary Maccabi Tel Aviv coach was unceremoniously fired a few days ago, Israel has stopped broadcasting Cavs games and ruined former Michigan basketball player Stu Douglass' "Bron viewing": "Israeli TV won't put the Cavs games on now since Blatt got fired and now everyone hates LeBron. Really messing with my Bron viewing."
Speaking to the media after Wednesday morning's shootaround, Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James made a point of responding to recent criticism stemming from the organization's decision to fire coach David Blatt despite the team's first-place record in the Eastern Conference. "I think it does suck that people want to throw my name in the dirt," James said.
"It sucks," James said. "But what can I do about it? I've never, in my time since I picked up a basketball, ever undermined a coach, ever disrespected a coach. You ask any of my little league coaches, my high school coaches, coaches I've played for in tournaments, camps, my NBA coaches. I've always respected what they wanted to do. And I'm not the owner of a team, I'm not the GM of a team. I'm the player of a team."
When asked about Katz's comments, James said, "I have no idea who that is." Katz has courtside seats at AmericanAirlines Arena next to the visiting team's bench. "I've never met that guy," James continued. "I don't even know if a lot of guys that actually played ever met him. I was there for four years, and I never met him. I think my relationship with Spo had nothing to do with that. At the end of day, I don't even think ... the fact that I never met him, I don't think he was involved in any of the conversations that goes on with the personnel of the team or the coaching staff or anything. But it's easy to say that at this point. Did he have some type of ... what's his objective? What's his role with the team?" A reporter then informed James that Katz used to be part-owner of Maccabi Tel Aviv while Blatt was the coach. "Oh," James said. "There you go. There's a direct correlation right there. Makes sense."
After taking hits for days over his perceived role in David Blatt’s firing and the belief he is a coach killer, LeBron James fired back Wednesday. James said he has always supported his head coach, dating back to childhood, and he insists he has never undermined any of his coaches. “People get it so misconstrued because I’m a smart basketball player and I’ve voiced my opinion about certain things,” James said. “What do you guys want me to do? Turn my brain off because I have a huge basketball IQ? If that’s what they want me to do, I’m not going to do it because I’ve got so much to give to the game.”
Miami Heat minority owner Raanan Katz: "David Blatt's main problem was LeBron's attitude. I sat court-side during all the games Cleveland played in Miami, I was a few feet away from the Cavaliers' bench, and I heard everything. There was no dialogue between Blatt and LeBron. Blatt would talk to Timofey Mozgov and the other guys. LeBron takes advantage of being an NBA superstar, and he needs to realize that it won't work. Everyone saw how the Golden State Warriors beat LeBron and the Cavaliers a week ago. He has to understand that to win, the entire team has to be in sync."
After James signed, he showed no interest in meeting Blatt. Weeks passed before James took a brief break from filming a movie in New York to have a face-to-face conversation with his new coach. It was clear James' respect for Blatt was limited, and soon it also became clear that Blatt assumed respect would be coming his way.
"It was like an 800-pound gorilla as the season moved on," one person involved with the team said. "You could just see LeBron connecting to [Lue] and turning his back on David."
But the Cavs were still in first place. The team finished the trip salvaging a 2-2 record, but there was no ignoring the growing issues. After the players had two days off to celebrate the new year, they gathered for practice back in Cleveland. Griffin sat in on a film session and jumped on James for not getting back on defense against the Nuggets, one of his bad habits. James accepted the criticism in stride, sources said. But this moment only inspired less faith in Blatt because it is supposed to be the coach -- not the GM -- holding the players accountable.
During the first portion of the 2014-15 season, film sessions were a topic of discussion among the players. Blatt was reluctant to criticize star players even when they clearly messed up a play. This became routine. It got so bad that I'm told that Lue finally intervened, stood up and demanded that somebody rewind the footage so that he could get on members of The Big 3.
During team scrimmages, players competed aggressively but bit their tongues as Blatt frequently blew his whistle to call ticky-tack or phantom fouls for his go-to players. One player said sometimes Blatt didn't even have a whistle and would yell at the top of his lungs to stop play and call a foul if one of his stars acted as if he was hit.
“Ty wanted the job from the beginning, and LeBron wanted him to have it,’’ an industry source told The Post. “There was a division within the players, but J.R. [Smith], [Iman] Shumpert, even [Kevin] Love sided with LeBron. Kyrie [Irving] was supportive of Dave, but there were a group the last two weeks trying to get him fired.’’
“Slowly but surely, that respect started chipping away where he would kind of be scared to correct LeBron in film sessions. When he would call every foul for LeBron in practice. Those type of things add up. Guys are like, ‘C’mon man, are you scared of him?’ ”
“I remember last year telling somebody on the team, ‘I love David Blatt. But if we’re in a close game, he can’t help us,’ ” Haywood said on Sirius XM. “That’s not a shot at Blatt. But … David Blatt can’t come to a huddle and draw up a play that would get us a good shot. David Blatt doesn’t understand sometimes substitution patterns. The mistake he made against the Bulls when he didn’t have the ball in LeBron’s hands at the end of the game… There were obvious mistakes he was making, and you start to see it as a player, where ‘We’re going to have to win this on our own, because he can’t do for us what Gregg Popovich can do for the Spurs. He can’t take advantage of a mismatch the way Steve Kerr did in the NBA Finals – Steve Kerr made it so it was hard for us to play James Jones. They attacked him every time he was in the game.”
Be careful how far you go with the "LeBron is the Cavs' real GM" theme, as well. If you're going to go there, you have to be nuanced about it. James doesn't hire or fire people; at least not people who work for his employer. But let's also not be naive. The notion that the Cavs would fire Blatt without a full understanding that this would meet with King James' approval? "Not a chance," a person familiar with the inner workings of the Cavs said Friday. "Zero."
Let's be clear about James' role here. Did he storm into Dan Gilbert's office after the Golden State debacle and demand that Blatt be fired? Absolutely not. But it has been clear pretty much since the day LeBron returned from Miami that he and Blatt were mismatched. More important, it has been clear within the team for months that James would welcome a scenario in which Lue, with whom James has a close relationship, takes over as head coach. James didn't ask the Cavs to fire Blatt, according to a person familiar with his role. Then again, he didn't have to. James is fully on board with Lue, 38, whose most memorable NBA accomplishment until now was getting stepped-over by Allen Iverson in the 2001 Finals.
While some question about Blatt’s job security bubbled up after the Warriors loss, it appeared quelled by the two subsequent wins. Few players on the Cavaliers have been defenders of Blatt, and within the team, new coach Tyronn Lue — given a deal to replace Blatt long term — has frequently been viewed as the de facto head coach. Still, the timing of Blatt’s firing, coming in the midst of a 17-4 run that has put Cleveland comfortably on top of the East, reeks of the Cavaliers of 10 years ago, when knee-jerk overreactions dominated personnel decisions and hindered the team from reaching its potential.
LeBron James was not consulted on the Cavaliers' decision to fire coach David Blatt, a league source told Cleveland.com. "He found out with the rest of the team," said the source. "He had no idea." A source said Cavs general manager David Griffin informed James of the move.
James' uneasiness with Blatt as coach last season was well documented, but James never asked the Cavs to make a change at coach, multiple sources said. But James and his camp were also upset in the summer of 2014 that the Cabs hired Blatt, who had no prior NBA experience, before James signed to return to Cleveland.
James, however, rejected his coach's softer stance. When asked whether fatigue was a factor, James said, "No. It's not an excuse." When another reporter asked whether injuries were to blame, James repeated, "It's not an excuse."
Despite injuries to key players, the Cavaliers entered the game 8-3 and tied with Chicago for the best record in the Eastern Conference. "I can tell you it's easier to coach a team when you have LeBron James on your side," Blatt said before the game. "It sure makes it a heck of a lot nicer. That was a nice thing to say."
Whatever the reason, one thing's become clear through these first 12 games: James is more of an ally for Blatt than perhaps at any point last season. "I think whenever you work with someone over a year, over time, you understand them," said Tristan Thompson, comparing the relationship between James and Blatt from last season to know. "You know, the first year you might have times where one might not say something to the other, just because it's new. You might hesitate sometimes, but as you get older, you build a relationship, build chemistry. The understanding is there."
When Blatt decided to foul Drummond, the Pistons’ center was 2-for-5 (40 percent) from the foul line for the game -- right on his average. The Pistons, meanwhile, were 7-from-17 (41.2 percent) from the field in the fourth quarter up until that point. “I mean, I’ll ride with whatever the coaches want to do,” LeBron James said when asked what he thought about the decision. “If he misses both, then we’ll go down on the offensive end. [He] shoots 40 percent from the free-throw line, sometimes you got to go with the statistics. I’d like to see if we can get a stop, but obviously we wasn’t getting no stops in the fourth, so you know.”
This season, Blatt is more comfortable letting James know what exactly he needs from him – as Blatt did during halftime of the Knicks game. The one underrated aspect of James’ game is his willingness to be coached. It happened in Miami with Erik Spoelstra, and it’s taking shape in Cleveland with Blatt in a relationship that is often analyzed and scrutinized.
James then directed his teammates to each find a basketball and "get up and down," essentially starting the warm-up. Blatt, who was actually in mid-sentence answering a question about James, said "he's also anxious to practice, so let me get over there."
Storyline: Blatt-LeBron Dynamic
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August 14, 2022 | 3:06 am EDT Update

Kevin Durant holding out of training camp?

Brian Windhorst spent much of his Friday episode of “Brian Windhorst & The Hoop Collective” podcast talking about Durant’s situation. Windhorst said he felt the Nets won the recent showdown between Durant and team owner Joe Tsai. But Windy doesn’t necessarily think that means all is over between the sides. In fact, Windhorst says he now could see a world where Durant holds out of training camp. “A week ago, if you had asked me, ‘Will Kevin Durant hold out of training camp if he is not traded?’ I would have been like, ‘eh, I can’t see it.’ Now I can see it. That is what we are headed towards,” Windhorst said.
Longtime basketball writer Marc Stein reported on Saturday that a matchup between the Grizzlies and the rival Golden State Warriors is on the NBA’s preliminary schedule for the 2022-23 season. Morant, the Memphis star, responded to the news with some trash talk for Warriors counterpart Draymond Green. “we got what we wanted dray. @Money23Green,” Morant tweeted along with a photo of a heated moment he had on the court with Green last year. Green was actually fairly muted and deferential in his response to Morant, tweeting back, “That’s the power of your voice Young! Let’s gooooo! Bring the fam to the crib for dinner after.”
The lawsuit says that by sharing the photos, those involved — including the deputy at the bar and firefighters weeks later at an awards banquet — violated the victims’ families’ constitutional rights to control images of their loved ones’ remains. “Mrs. Bryant feels ill at the thought of strangers gawking at images of her deceased husband and child, and she lives in fear that she or her children will one day confront horrific images of their loved ones online,” Bryant’s lawyers wrote in a complaint. “Many social media users have claimed to have seen photos of the victims’ remains, and their accounts are plausible given the number of deputies who took photos, the ease with which cellphone pictures are transmitted and saved in cloud storage, and the Sheriff’s Department’s egregious failure to take reasonable steps to prevent dissemination of the photos.”
Storyline: Vanessa Bryant Lawsuit
Surveillance video inside the bar showing Cruz and Gutierrez interacting and appearing to look at Cruz’s cellphone together played throughout his testimony. At times, it appeared that Cruz and Gutierrez were smiling and laughing after viewing the photos — but Gutierrez disputed that interpretation. “What type of human being would laugh at photos of other human beings like that?” he said. Bryant, sitting in the courtroom, repeatedly wiped away tears and, at times, held her head in her hands. At one point, while Gutierrez testified about the photos, she asked the judge for permission to leave the courtroom. She stood up and walked out, wiping tears from her eyes. The trial is expected to last at least another week, with 52 total witnesses slated to appear. Villanueva and Bryant are among those scheduled to testify.
August 13, 2022 | 9:32 pm EDT Update